I hopped on an early flight Saturday morning to perform in Columbus, Ohio, and upon arrival was led to my venue by Barack Obama and a couple of police motorcades. Truth!
Turns out he was heading from the airport to Ohio State University at the same time I was heading from the airport to a venue just a neighborhood away. There were police cars and motorcycles, three tour buses, more police cars and motorcycles, and a Mustang carrying my gracious hosts and me. I didn’t find out until the next day that it was him, but I had a gut feeling that I was being led by hope, and it felt good.
That hope was a fitting tribute to the show I was there to perform – Mrs. Man of God is a very funny, very poignant show about the joys, fears, and complexities of being the “Minister’s Wife,” when the Minister is gay and the Minister’s Wife is a man, and when your faith requires you to be closeted. The literal backdrop of our show is but a small representation of The Shower of Stoles project – stoles of clergy who have been stripped of their credentials for loving whom they love. Over a thousand of these stoles exist – representations of clergy who have been denied their life’s passion, their calling, because of their identity. I’m not a religious person, but I strive daily to honor and defend social justice, so I find this particular show’s message moving and, sadly, relevant.
It was a joy to rejoin the Nashville cast for this show – (what stellar, stellar talent! – Dennis Curley, Beth Gilleland, Dane Stauffer, and Scott Ford), and a joy to see some familiar faces from our performance in Nashville – Columbus clergy that had joined together with the help of the Human Rights Campaign and several other organizations to bring Mrs. Man of God to town in advance of a vote; a vote in the Methodist church on whether or not to recognize GLBT clergy.
The only hitch in the entire weekend, aside, perhaps, from the insane stress of keeping two different shows in my head leading up to the flight, was that I glanced at our program a few minutes before going onstage only to discover that I was billed as “Hugh Horton.” I vaguely recollect screaming, “HUGH Horton?!,” and laughing hysterically before covering my mouth to hold it in. I’ve gotten some pretty incredible name misspellings and mispronunciations over the years, but this one is my favorite thus far.
All in all, the audience was enormous and fantastic, and there was an incredible sense of community in the room. Everyone had different, compelling, beautiful, and heartwrenching stories, and I was honored to be part of a show that invited these stories to be told. And on a completely shallow note – my voice was back up to snuff and I sang my heart out.